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For the month of January, I’ve been working with my yoga classes on the concept of sankalpa. This translates to intention, resolve, determination. Many people confuse this with setting resolutions (as in New Year’s resolutions). However, sankalpa is much more than the typical superficial resolutions most people set. When you create a true sankalpa, it is much deeper. Here’s how I’ve been explaining it to my classes:

A typical New Year’s resolution might be something like, “I will lose 10 lbs.”, or “I will pay off my debt.” Heck, we may even get a lil’ deeper than that and say something like, “I will change my career to be something more meaningful.” Sound familiar?

I’ve set resolutions like this myself almost every single year. Do I ever achieve any of them? Sometimes. But I notice that when I do, I never really feel the sense of accomplishment I hoped I would. Do you ever feel like that when you reach some goal you’ve set for yourself? I mean, it’s great to lose some weight or pay off debt, but it’s all about ME when I set these sorts of resolutions or goals.

When you set a sankalpa, it’s meant to be something that not only affects YOU, but also those around you. At least that’s how I like to look at it. Let me “break it down like a fraction” as my husband likes to say, and give you my personal example.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that my posts have become more philosophical, especially over the last year. For quite some time now, I’ve been trying to figure out my purpose in life, as I really wasn’t feeling like I was fully doing what I was meant to be doing. As I was working on my first Toastmaster’s speech in November, it all came together and hit me like a ton of bricks. All the soul-searching I’d been doing finally opened my eyes and helped me discover what I truly feel is my purpose in life…to be a Happiness Advocate, as I like to affectionately refer to myself now. I performed the speech in early December and posted it here on this site, as I felt it was relevant to the material on this blog.

Well, between then and now, it feels like my life is on warp speed…in a great way! So many opportunities are coming my way and I wondered, “Why? Why am I so lucky all of a sudden? What did I do to deserve this?”

I’ll tell you what I think happened. As I wrote that speech – as I figured out my life’s purpose during that process – I also set my sankalpa, my intention. Without even realizing it. My intention is to find happiness and infect everyone around me with it.

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(See? Even my Raspberry Leaf Yogi Tea fortune agrees with me.)

First I had to start with myself, because I can’t expect to make anyone else happy if I’m not happy with my own life. And Gosh Darnit, I’ve been working at this for a REALLY long time and I finally AM happy. I know what makes me tick and what brings me joy. I learned that to truly be happy, I have to find the good in EVERY situation I am faced with. Every situation, no matter how bad it may seem, is presented to us for a reason. There is always a lesson to learn, and it’s from those lessons that we grow into the people we are meant to be. Most importantly, I learned that be happy, I need to love myself…and I do…I definitely, FINALLY, love myself. Now that I look at life through that lens, how can I NOT be happy?

Now I’m not saying that I am always rosy and cheery and all that. We all have bad days, after all. Days when I think, “Why isn’t this happening FAST enough?”, “Why can’t I do THIS yet?” But I quickly change my thought process to, “What is the positive in this? What can I learn from this?” When I do that, I find that smile and that sense of peace.

Magically, it seems like people are starting to notice.

  1. My yoga classes are getting bigger and my students are TRULY leaving with smiles on their faces. Is it because I’m this uber-amazing yoga teacher who has the most awesome sequences EVER? No…if you have been to one of my classes, my sequences are nothing crazy or special. Is it because I’m so graceful on my mat when I teach? HECK NO! Again, if you’ve been to my classes, you know that I rarely do the poses with you, and when I do, it is obvious just how UNgraceful I am in most every pose I do. I think people are coming back because they can see I’m happy. Authentically happy. I wear my heart on my sleeve (or tank, if it’s warm in the room), and I think people appreciate that I am real. Real clumsy, real nerdy, real goofy…real HUMAN.
  2. I’ve been given some new yoga opportunities, most notably, helping to lead a retreat in Aruba in November 2015. Click here for more info on that…I’d love for you to join me if you can!
  3. I’ve already talked in past posts about my full-time job and all the cool things that have been happening on that front.
  4. I’ve been nominated for something at work that is wellness related, and it’s all around this journey I’ve been on. I don’t know if I’ll win, but just being nominated is…well, WOW!
  5. I’ve been asked to share my story at a gathering coming up for people who suffer from chronic illness, to show that you CAN come out on the other side. I was told I was asked because I have a “happy energy”. I’ll take that!

Here’s perhaps the coolest thing of all…at least to me. This past weekend, I went to an energy session with a couple other ladies at this really beautiful space in Monroe, NC called The Inn and Rosehill. It was a gift from my parents for Christmas and my birthday. It was five glorious hours of dabbling in Reiki, numerology, and intuitive healing. WELL…during the numerology session, it came out that my soul’s urge is to…WAIT FOR IT… Make. People. HAPPY! Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. See the pic for yourself. Can you say V-A-L-I-D-A-T-I-O-N?

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(Here’s the write-up from the Numerology results…cool, huh? In the middle box, zoom in and you’ll see it says “Joy Soul’s Urge”.)

Seriously, all this hard work I’ve been doing the past couple of years, trying to make sense of so many things thrown at me…it’s paying off. And something tells me more is to come. I’m only just beginning, I can feel it!

Yoga has been crucial in all of this. It allowed me to cultivate patience when I struggled to understand something that was happening to me. It allowed me to appreciate my breath and how healing it can be. It allowed me to develop my meditation practice. It allowed me to realize that I am beautiful, no matter how clumsily I move or how much my body changes due to medications. It allowed me to figure out what my sankalpa is…not just for 2015 but for the rest of my life. Most importantly, it allowed me to find happiness. Won’t you join me and let it help you find YOURS?

Namaste,

Melanie

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In November, I joined my company’s Toastmasters club. It’s something I’d been thinking about joining for a long time, and my recent promotion at work was sort of the kick in the pants I needed to finally get me off my keister and sign up. Today, I gave my first speech in the program, which was an icebreaker speech. The whole purpose of this speech was to “introduce myself” to the group in such a way that afterwards, they would have a much better idea about who I am and what I stand for. I decided to do this by talking about my purpose in life. Here is the speech in written form, complete with the pictures I projected onscreen. Note that I didn’t give the speech word for word as you see below…I love to adlib, as I definitely feed off the energy of the people in the room. But here is what I said, more or less…enjoy!

“Have a Sparking Day!” This has been my signature phrase for the past 23 years, since I was 19 years old. If you’ve ever called me and gotten my voice mail, you know that I always end my recorded greeting with “Thank you for calling and Have a Sparkling Day!” People often tell me they pray I won’t answer when they call because they love getting my voice mail, just so they can hear me say that.

For a long time, I wondered why that phrase has stuck with me for as long as it has. You know where I first heard it? I was dating a guy in college who still lived with his dad, and I called one night and got their answering machine. It was his dad’s voice, saying the standard, “Sorry we’re not here right now” message. But right at the end, he said, “Thank you for calling and Have a Sparking Day!” I don’t know why, but hearing those words made me break out in a HUGE smile and made me feel so good! So I adopted them as my own that very day, and I’ve been saying them ever since. When people hear those words from me, I want them to feel just as good as I did when I first heard them.

You might say I’ve been working at trying to make people feel good my whole life. My mom loves to tell the story about when I got my first immunizations as an infant. She took me to the doctor, they gave me the shots, and I screamed and cried at the top of my lungs! But as soon as the doctor turned my face to his, I stopped crying instantly and gave him the hugest smile!

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(OK, so I wasn’t a newborn here…but I’m pretty sure this was what my smile looked like to that doctor!)

He got all flustered, saying that I “couldn’t possibly be smiling, as newborns don’t smile…it must be gas!” But he had a big smile on HIS face, and my mom says she knew in her heart right then that I was meant for good things.

As a child, I would always do whatever it took to make people laugh or smile. Putting on impromptu plays, making up silly songs, or wearing ridiculously loud outfits!

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(My dad affectionately referred to this as my Clem Kadiddlehopper outfit…he still talks about how LOUD the outfit was!)

When I saw the sparkle in their eyes, I was happy.

As a teenager, I got involved in community service activities. I participated in a teen theatre group in which we wrote our own skits about the problems teenagers face. We performed those skits at local middle schools and high schools, and it was amazing to me how many teens would come up to speak with us after each performance with smiles on their faces. It was cool to see that they finally realized they weren’t alone in the struggles they were going through, and to see that sparkle return just a bit.

Through my church in high school, I got involved with the Appalachian Service Project. For three summers, I went with a big group of teens and adults all the way from CT to locations deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains for a week at a time. While there, we’d fix the houses of local families who desperately needed the help. Not only did I learn some great handyman skills, but I got a chance to get to know these families. It was awesome to see these families show up each day throughout the week with bigger and bigger smiles on their faces. And it wasn’t just because we were working to make their homes safe and livable, but because we took the time to get to know them. Again, I had the chance to see some sparkle returning into their lives.

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Once I became an adult, I didn’t have as much time to devote to these kinds of things and I definitely felt like something was missing.

But in 2002, something amazing happened. I’d been practicing yoga for a couple of years by that point. One day after class, my teacher suggested I sign up for a teacher training she was running. My first thought was, “What? Me? I’m the least flexible person in the world! I couldn’t possibly teach yoga!”

But I thought about it long and hard. When I began practicing yoga, I was going through a divorce, working to support myself and my daughter, all while trying to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. Yoga didn’t just improve my strength and flexibily and help me work through some injuries I had. It also showed me how to look within, focus on the important things, and let go of the things that don’t matter. Yoga brought the sparkle back into MY life and enabled me to find happiness. How could I not share that with others? So I decided to register for that training and haven’t looked back!

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(See how happy I am when I am practicing yoga!)

Yoga helped me figure out my purpose in life, which I believe is to help others find ways to bring a little bit more “Sparkle” back into their lives, each and every day. I’ve dubbed myself as the “Happiness Advocate”, and this role has permeated all aspects of my life: as a yoga teacher; as a wife, mother and friend; and even in my career here at Premier.

When I’m able to help someone work through an issue in any of these roles, no matter how big or small, I am fulfilled. I know I’m making a difference in someone’s life every day that I put myself out there, and that makes it very easy to get up in the morning. I feel like I’m putting the “Sparkle” back into the world, one person at a time.

I’d like to close by challenging each of you to take a look at how you can put a little more “Sparkle” into your own lives each day. Be your own “Happiness Advocate”. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, it might spill over and do something wonderful for the others you come into contact with on your journey.

Thank you for listening, and “Have a Sparkling Day!”

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